When Diandra Toyos was shopping at Ikea with her mum and three kids, she had a strange feeling that something was seriously wrong. Call it a mother's intuition or just being an observant parent, but strangers in the couch department were giving this mum a bad vibe.
What happened next will send chills down any parent's spine and Diandra is sharing her story to warn everyone about what could happen if families aren't careful. "I noticed a well dressed, middle aged man circling the area, getting closer to me and the kids," she wrote on Facebook. "At one point he came right up to me and the boys, and instinctively I put myself between he and my mobile son. I had a bad feeling."
Diandra explained that the stranger continued to circle the area, staring at her kids, ages 4 years old, 1 1/2 years old, and 7 weeks old. "My mum noticed as well and mentioned that we needed to keep an eye on him," she wrote. "We moved on ... and so did he. Closely."
In addition to this stranger following them, Diandra's mum noticed another male staying close by. "He wasn't looking at us, but was walking the same circling pattern around us as the first man," she wrote. "My mum and I decided to sit down and wait for them to move on. We had a gut feeling something was going on, but we hoped we were wrong and they would move on."
They sat at one of the display rooms for 30 minutes and during that time the men sat on one of the couches facing them and waited too. "That was when we knew our gut feeling was right and something was off," she wrote. "The older man was still watching us. [My mum] made eye contact ... very clearly letting them know that we saw them. And we moved on."
They managed to lose them at one point by using the bathroom and going into a different section. As soon as they were through the Ikea "maze," the women reported what happened to security. "Something was off. We knew it in our gut. I am almost sure that we were the targets of human trafficking," she explained, though she admits in an edit to the post that she has no exact confirmation on what the men were really up to. "This is happening all over, including the United States. It's in our backyards. I'm reading more and more about these experiences and it's terrifying. If not that, something else shady was obviously going on. Either way, as parents, we NEED to be aware."
Diandra noticed a few things about these men she wants other parents to be aware of when out with their kids. They weren't shopping or waiting for anyone. "The older man would occasionally pick something up and act like he was looking at it, but he'd look right over the top of it at my kids," she wrote. "Then he'd drop it and move on as soon as we did."
According to Diandra, these men were alone and didn't talk to anyone or even smile. They were dressed differently and tried not to appear to be together. But most importantly, they were spending most of their time in an area that was close to an exit. "They could have run out that exit with my child and handed them off to someone waiting outside and been gone before I could find them," she wrote.
Most importantly, Diandra wants all parents to keep one thing in mind whenever they are out with their kids:
Please PLEASE be aware when you're out with your children. It's not the time to be texting or Facebooking or chatting on the phone. When you're in a public place with your kids, please be aware and present so that you don't become a victim. Had I not been paying attention that day ... or had I let my kids roam and play while I checked my phone ... I may have lost one. The thought just makes me completely ill. (Especially because I've been guilty of this!).